Mexico City, Mexico, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - A TV series for young people entitled “Vida Mia,” which touches on modern-day issues from a Catholic perspective, is gaining popularity and may soon reach a wider audience in Mexico.
Produced by Guadalupe Communications, the series has run for one season on TV4 in Leon, and it may soon reach the airwaves in cities such as Guadalajara, Veracruz and Toluca. “Vida Mia” tells the story of Camila, a young girl whose mother decided to let her live rather than having an abortion. Camila grows up with her father. “She faces the challenge of leading her own life and making the best decisions. She doesn’t always do so, but she does try. Together with her friends from school, she will go through a series of situations that will allow us to develop the lives of the boys and girls,” said director Jose Antonio Takano.
“We didn’t want to do the classic documentary in order to tell young people about the risks of anorexia and drug use. Rather, we want to present these issues in an attractive way, and that has been part of the success of this series,” Takano said.
“We are in talks with stations in Colima, Morelos, Guadalajara, Chiapas, Durango and Zacatecas,” he continued. “We’ve sent them demos and even entire episodes and they like the way we convey the importance of values and the family to young people,” the director said.
Buffalo, N.Y., Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has announced that it will establish a statewide network of faith-based counseling services, after an increasing number of parishioners have been turning to their parish priests for help with problems beyond the spiritual.
The counseling service will be established by the diocese’s social service arm, Catholic Community Services. The Catholic charity is seeking approval from the West Virginia Health Care Authority, and hopes to get the program started this summer.
“The plan is to bring counselors to where people need them,” said Ellen Vance, assistant director of Catholic Community Services. “This is for a person who wants counseling that respects his or her views, that respects their prayer life, spiritual life and church affiliation.”
The counseling service will be available to people of all faiths, ages and income levels. It intends to make counselors more available to people in rural areas.
Catholic Community Services eventually plans to hire counselors in each diocese’s seven vicariates. The counselors can also help people with employment issues — troubles at work and finding a job.
Beijing, China, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - China's state-controlled Catholic Church praised Pope Benedict’s letter to Chinese Catholics and voiced hope that the Vatican and Beijing would soon be able to establish formal relations, reported the AFP.
"The pope, through his papal letter has expressed his love and concern for China's believers ... This is different from earlier papal letters," Liu Bainian, deputy head of the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, told reporters on Monday.
"Earlier papal letters were opposed to communism and the socialist system. They wanted to [punish] members of China's patriotic church. Now the situation is not the same. The pope wants to better understand China's Church," Liu said.
The papal letter, published on Saturday, expressed "good intentions," Liu said.
However, the following day, Liu was quick to criticize Cardinal Joseph Zen of Hong Kong, who walked in a pro-democracy rally on Sunday, which coincided with the territory's handover anniversary events.
“If the Vatican supports someone like him, how can it win China's trust?" Liu was quoted as saying in the press.
Zen's behavior has caused concern among "public figures" about the consequences of having mainland bishops appointed by the Vatican, Liu reportedly said.
The cardinal joined tens of thousands of demonstrators in the pro-democracy march Sunday, as China celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong.
Buffalo, N.Y., Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - Buffalo City Council should withdraw a resolution it passed last week, criticizing the decision of the Diocese of Buffalo to close some schools and churches, said Catholic League president Bill Donohue.
In response to the closures, Council President David A. Franczyk had charged that some neighborhoods were being abandoned, giving off “the whiff of ethnic cleansing.” He said if the Church is having financial problems, it should consider selling the Vatican.
“Dioceses all over the nation look at the changing demographics and make tough decisions regarding church and school closings, as well as openings. They don’t need any lectures from government bureaucrats on what to do. And they certainly don’t need to hear the kind of hate speech they heard,” Donohue said.
He added: “The same city council that wouldn’t dream of giving Catholic parents a dime to support school vouchers—which would help to keep the schools open—has the audacity to bash the bishop over something it has no legal or moral ground to stand on.”
Donohue commented on recent reports that city council is reconsidering its resolution.
“Sober heads among the Buffalo City Council are now arguing that the use of the term ‘ethnic cleansing’ needs to be dropped from the resolution,” he said. “That is the bare minimum that needs to be done. A better way to handle this mess is to withdraw the resolution altogether and appoint a task force to sit down with diocesan officials to discuss their concerns.”
Donohue said Franczyk should sit on the task force.
“If the leader of any religious body in Buffalo were to bash the city council for not providing sufficient funding for local schools, he would be blasted for using intemperate language and for crossing church and state lines,” he added. “The same rules should apply in reverse, and that is why the resolution should be withdrawn.”
Washington D.C., Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - The U.S. bishops are urging Amnesty International to restore its neutral position on abortion and to reverse a recent decision by its executive council to take a pro-abortion stand.
The bishops’ position was outlined in a July 2 statement from Bishop William S. Skylstad, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He urged Amnesty International to reverse the decision when its International Council meets in Mexico in August.
“The action of the executive council undermines Amnesty’s longstanding moral credibility, diverts its mission, divides its own members (many of whom are Catholic or defend the rights of unborn children), and jeopardizes Amnesty’s support by people in many nations, cultures and religion,” Bishop Skylstad said.
“Much more urgent work remains, work which we believe will be harmed by this unprecedented and unnecessary involvement in the abortion debate,” said Bishop Skylstad.
The bishop noted the words of Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who recently said that if Amnesty maintains its decision, individuals and Catholic organizations must withdraw their support.
“While the proposed action by Amnesty International may appear to some to support women’s freedom or provide a compassionate response to women in difficult situations of pregnancy, abortion injures the health and dignity of women at the same time that it ends the life of the unborn child,” Bishop Skylstad added.
“A far more compassionate response is to provide support and services for pregnant women, advance their educational and economic standing in society, and resist all forms of violence and stigmatization against them. The Catholic Church provides these services to many women around the world and commits itself to continuing to do so,” he stated.
“Based on this commitment to women, the Church does not object to AI’s stand against criminal penalties for women who have undergone abortion,” said the bishop. “In fact, the Catholic Church has long held that these women need compassion and healing, not punishment.
“However, AI’s policy also exempts abortion practitioners from meaningful penalties and thereby trivializes the harm done by abortion,” he continued. “AI’s new policy appears to apply to every stage of pregnancy and has already led AI-USA to oppose laws against the killing of partially-delivered children,” he underlined.
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - During the 41st meeting of the Council of Cardinals to study organizational and economic affairs of the Holy See, Cardinal Sergio Sebastiani, president of Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See, presented the final balance for 2006, which showed the Holy See ended the year with a surplus of nearly $3.3 million.
Cardinal Sebastiani explained that income in 2006 reached $310,238,360 while expenditures were $306,980,390.
He also presented the final balance for 2006 for the Vatican City State, which includes the economic revenues of the Vatican territory and the activities that support the Holy See. The Vatican government has as one of its main responsibilities the maintaining of the Holy See’s artistic patrimony, mainly concentrated in the Vatican Museums, which receive more than 4.2 million tourists per year. 2006 ended with a surplus of $29,753,126.
The Vatican City State has 693 employees. In 2006, more than $20 million was paid out in pensions to employees who retired that year.
During the meeting, the cardinals focused particularly on the economic affairs of Vatican Radio and Television, L’Osservatore Romano, and the Holy See Press Office and website. They also presented the 2006 Peter’s Pence collection to the Holy See, which last year reached $138,764,960. The funds from Peter’s Pence are used to support the activities of the Holy Father.
, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to Chinese Catholics published last Saturday, the bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen Zi-kiun, expressed his hope that it would serve as point of departure for dialogue between Church and government officials. He said that Beijing should allow the Church in China to be truly Catholic and thereby be recognized and respected by the rest of the world.
The Chinese cardinal explained in a press release that the Pope wished to express his “special concern” for Catholics in China and to give them guidance “at this crucial time, so that they can be freed of this unfortunate situation.”
“My impression: I admire the precious balance achieved by the Holy Father between his passion for the truth and his love for his sons and daughters. Only an extraordinary theologian and tender father could satisfy at once the demands of the truth and the nobleness of the people. Praised be God for having given us such a leader!” he said.
Cardinal Zen noted that the teaching conveyed by Pope Benedict in his letter is nothing more than universally accepted Catholic principles that are not part of any political agenda nor do they constitute an attack on anyone. “My hope is that the leaders of our country will read the Pope’s letter from this perspective and understand the truth of the immutable nature of the Catholic Church.”
“My second hope: the voices of our bishops and priests in China have often been prevented from reaching our leaders. Now that this letter from the Pope is in the hands of our leaders, our bishops and priests can refer to it directly as a point of departure for dialogue,” the cardinal continued.
“The Pope insists that the bishops be leaders of the Church and that they not be separated from the Roman Pontiff. My hope is that our bishops and priests will remain united to the Holy Father. Let them allow our Church in China to truly be the Catholic Church recognized and respected by the rest of the world and let it give honor and glory to our country as part of the universal Church,” Cardinal Zen stated.
Madrid, Spain, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - In a new pastoral letter, Bishop Jose Sanchez of Siguenza-Guadalajara said that in beatifying martyrs, the Church “does not side with one particular group or another confronted during the civil war,” but rather she recognizes “the virtue, testimony, and exemplariness” of Christians who were “unjustly and violently put to death.”
Referring to the 498 martyrs of the Spanish Civil War, Bishop Sanchez noted in his letter that three of them were from his own diocese.
In addition to Saturnino Ortega Montealegre and Franciscans Ángel Remigio Hernández-Ranera de Diego and Julián Navío Colado, the bishop said, twenty other martyrs from the group studied in Franciscan or Salesian schools in the province of Guadalajara.
“In the case of our martyrs, it’s clear they died in a religious persecution, none of them died in warfare, nor did they die killing others, and they didn’t even defend themselves. They died forgiving,” Bishop Sanchez said in his letter.
The martyrs, he noted, “keep alive in us the hope that their testimony is stronger than the supposed power and manifest violence of the false prophets, with their vain promises of paradise on earth and with their atheism.”
Madrid, Spain, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - The civil rights website HazteOir.org announced it will file a lawsuit against the organizers of the Gay Pride 2007 parade for “offending religious sentiments,” as participants insulted and ridiculed Catholics and Catholic beliefs.
“The Gay Pride 2007 march in Madrid on June 30 brought together a complete cast of mockery, offenses and threats against those who do not accept the dogmas of the most powerful lobby. Once again this year Catholics were victims of most of the diatribes,” the website stated.
Participants in parade derided bishops and priests and “labeled those who believe in marriage as a union between a man and a woman as ‘homophobes’.”
The website also denounced the city government of Madrid for financial supporting the event despite its record of mocking Catholics in recent years.
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - In today’s catechesis on the early Church fathers, Pope Benedict focused on St. Basil. Referring to the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, the Holy Father called Basil a "light of the Church." The audience, attended by 12,000 people, began in St. Peter’s Basilica and then was continued in the Paul VI Hall.
St. Basil, the Pope explained, was born in the 4th century. "Dissatisfied with his worldly successes and ... attracted by Christ, ... he dedicated himself to a monastic life in prayer ... and in the practice of charity." The Church in both East and West, he added, "looks to him admiringly for the sanctity of his life, the excellence of his doctrine and the harmonic blend of his intellectual and practical gifts."
"Through his preaching and writing," this saint, who became bishop Caesarea in 370, "undertook an intense pastoral, theological and literary activity" and "supported the foundation of many 'fraternities' or communities of Christians consecrated to God, whom he visited frequently."
St. Basil "is one of the fathers of monasticism. ... He created a special form of monasticism, not closed to the local church community but open to it. ... His monks ran schools and hospitals and served the poor, thus demonstrating the integrity of their Christian life." These hospitals soon became the model for our modern hospitals.
While maintaining his concern with charity as a sign of faith, Basil "considered the liturgy as the focus of his life," and "was also a wise liturgical reformer. ... At his encouragement, the people came to know and love the Psalms. ... He was able to oppose heretics ... and dedicated his energies to healing divisions within the Church."
"Following a plan he had devised, he became apostle and minister of Christ, ... herald of the Kingdom of God, model and rule of piety, ... pastor of Christ's flock, pious doctor, father and nurse, God's helper and laborer, builder of the Lord's temple.
"This," the Pope concluded, "is the plan that the holy bishop passes on to us, especially to those who announce the Word. He was a man ... who showed us how to be truly Christian."
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope addressed all young people who are preparing for the next World Youth Day with a message of encouragement to grow deeper in the faith and a challenge to share that faith with others.
Benedict encouraged the young people "to prepare well for this marvelous celebration of the faith. ... Enter fully into the life of your parishes and participate enthusiastically in diocesan events! In this way you will be equipped spiritually to experience new depths of understanding of all that we believe when we gather in Sydney next July."
"I know that already the ecclesial and government authorities, together with numerous young Australians, are working very hard to ensure an exceptional experience for us all. I offer them my heartfelt thanks.
"World Youth Day is much more than an event," Pope Benedict added. "It is a time of deep spiritual renewal, the fruits of which benefit the whole of society."
"Some of you have friends with little real purpose in their lives, perhaps caught up in a futile search for endless new experiences. Bring them to World Youth Day too! In fact, I have noticed that against the tide of secularism many young people are rediscovering the satisfying quest for authentic beauty, goodness and truth. Through your witness you help them in their search for the Spirit of God."
The Holy Father left the youth with the exhortation, "Be courageous in that witness! Strive to spread Christ's guiding light, which gives purpose to all life, making lasting joy and happiness possible for everyone."
CNA has made the full text of the Pope's message available in our documents section. Click here for the message.
Vatican City, Jul 4, 2007 (CNA) - Pope Benedict XVI has released his prayer intentions for the month of July.
His general intention is: "That all citizens, individually and in groups, may be enabled to participate actively in the life and management of the common good."
His mission intention is: "That, aware of their own missionary duty, all Christians may actively help all those engaged in the evangelization of peoples."